LEGAL EAGLE: My son shares the surname as violent ex; can I change it?

I have a three-year-old son who is about to start nursery. Myself and his father were in a relationship but broke up a few years ago due to domestic abuse.

“I recently found out from the news that my ex has been convicted for a violent offence and is in prison.”
“I recently found out from the news that my ex has been convicted for a violent offence and is in prison.”

I have no idea where he is, and he has never contacted me since the breakup. He has not even seen his son since we broke up.

I recently found out from the news that he has been convicted for a violent offence and is in prison. My son shares his surname, and I am very concerned about this.

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If you search his name online, the news articles come up regarding his conviction! I don’t want my son associated with him and I don’t want him to find out that his father is a violent criminal. Can I change my son’s surname without him knowing about it?

The process for changing your child’s surname will depend on whether his father has parental responsibility.

If your ex-partner is on the birth certificate or you were married to your ex-partner, he will have parental responsibility for your child.

He will also have parental responsibility if there is a parental responsibility agreement or court order in place.

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If none of these apply, then chances are he does not have parental responsibility.

If your ex-partner does have parental responsibility, then you can only lawfully affect a change of surname by seeking his consent.

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We can take reasonable steps to locate your ex-partner in order to obtain his consent. Once he gives his written consent, we can proceed to change your child’s surname. Our firm can assist by producing a Change of Name Deed. This would exist alongside the birth certificate.

If your ex-partner does not have parental responsibility, you are able to change your child’s name without your ex-partner’s permission.

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However, it is best practice to obtain consent from the father even if he does not have parental responsibility.

In the event that your ex-partner does not consent, you may be able to make an application to the court for a Specific Issue Order. This will allow the court to decide whether the surname can be changed without consent.

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The court will have regard to the welfare checklist, take into account the circumstances of your particular case and what is in the child’s best interests.

An application to the court should be a last resort after taking steps to obtain your ex-partner’s permission.